Sunday, June 30, 2019

Solo Session 0.4 - 4th Term

After travelling about the Quadrant and meeting new people, Malik returns to Yllom a more worldly man and decides to stay in the journalism business. He barely survives again, and has yet another chance to bring down yet another political figure. I suppose with 60+ councils there must be a few bad apples despite Yllom's quite passive society. Unfortunately, not so lucky this time (and I also misread the last roll and don't think I took a +1 in one of my skills, so I'll have to look back and adjust one. Even with that it would have missed the roll I think). So, I'm going to assume investigate should not be adjusted as he failed. I think I'll add language 1 from 0. His journeys the last term should have brought him into contact with a lot of cultures and languages. But he gains yet another enemy, another political figure it would seem. And on the mishap table: forced out because of censorship or controversy. Apparently that political leader had some clout with the paper!  It would give Malik a +2 to get into another career, but at 34, and after his pervious term, Malik is now ready to explore a bit more on his own.

The only question I have: would he still get to roll on the advancement table? I am going with no as that is how the flow chart looks to act: mishaps do not let you get promoted.

While he did get through 4 terms, one of those he managed to lose a benefit. So he has all of three rolls on getting out of the journalism career. Rolling a 4, then a 3 on the cash table nets him Cr20,000. Rolling on the benefits table, a 5 yields INT +1. So smarter and wiser, but now unemployed and searching for adventure!

Malik Catillion, age 34, Jounalist, Senior Staff writer
Art (Writing 2), Carouse 0, Deception 0, Drive 0, Flyer 0, Persuade 0, Steward 0, Language 1, Electronics (Comm 1, Sensors 1), Investigate 1, Streetwise 0.

And wanting to hitch a ride out of the starport and leave his troubles and 2 enemies behind. He does have some contacts with the Antares Ship Builders and Trade Speculators group. Perhaps Lynwood Laux (the ship's captain of No Refunds will hire him on. That is the name of the captain and ship for the T5 book and cards I will be getting. Not really having a merchant character in Traveller, just my old Scout, I just made up some names and will flesh that out later)

Pretty sure I did not add one to any of his skills, so I am granting him another level in writing. That is how he made his living, after all.

The next step is figuring out how to come up with the random stuff. I may have to break down and get that SOLO book on Drive-Thru for some guidance here. But it was fun getting into a bit of a deep dive on a character generation and at least one more planet detailed out. I think I may spend a bit of next weekend thinking about a Class A Starport on a planet with 90 billion people: there are no lack of job applicants so probably little automation, lots of unions perhaps. And a large quantity of high tech imports to keep starship maintenance viable as per Imperial law. Plus it is a 4 day weekend for me, so yay! And happy early 4th of July everyone!

Solo Session 0.35: With the Space Patrol

Just a note: I've not established dates just yet. I'll probably start our intrepid reporter in 1106 or so, and I am probably going to risk 1 more term, so this particular report would be probably around 1100 or so. I'll figure it out later. So the date as posted may not entirely match up but it sounded good. This is a report from his term when he was exploring the sector, or at least the Quadrant. Getting paid to visit stange new worlds and not kill people.

Please note that I am using the Stellar Games Space Patrol and Pirates, so references are made to those books. I've yet to get a player to generate a character with those books, but I am the meantime, they are good reads and I think a good addition to anyone's science fiction RPG. The Opis class trader is an A2 Far Trader described in Moon Toad's Shipbook: A2L Trader. Also well worth it.

343-1100, Kolha, League of Independent Planets (0713 E783787-1)  This system is on the RImward of the League, the 5th planet of a bright F8 star. Not much to recommend for the casual tourist, yet Antares maintains a regular cargo run to this system. The week my ship, the Road Runner, came out of jump, we were met by the League's Space Patrol. A Dragon class Patrol Corvette more than twice the size of our 300 ton A2 OPis class Far Trader. They hailed us and within hours had matched our orbit. The Wyvern sent across two patrol men, Chief Investigator Sergeant Avril Hunter, and Investigator Corporal  Yen-She Lucas. They managed a fast yet surprisingly thorough cargo inspection first via an actual review of the cargo. Having two cargo bays, they did split their efforts. I followed and spoke with Sergeant Hunter as to why to Patrol is here, and what they would be looking for.

"Well, Kohla's population is basically barely out of the Stone Age. They have no defenses against any interstellar group. The League annexed the planet almost 50 years ago for a variety of reasons. They have some good resources in terms of fresh foods, and a surprisingly artistic crafting that can fetch some pretty good prices. Trading here is via goods and bartering. But before it was a member of the League, we had pirates based out of here on one of the moons of Kolha-1. They were a constant threat to some of our systems. The Imperials seem to want to ignore them, and have no Naval bases nearby anyway. In fact, some think that..." 

And here she quit talking, and concentrated on using her scanner to match inventory and packing info to the ship's cargo listing. She was quiet after that, seeming more aware of the AVBot hovering over my shoulder. 

She and Corporal Lucas then met up with Artic Pezal, our head steward and cargo master. He confirmed that one of the cargo containers was for Kohla, full of stainless steel farming implements. These were to be traded for furs, meats and exotic food stuffs, most going to Xabic two jumps farther on our journey. The natives of Kohla were unable to manufacture such farming implements themselves, and they were highly prized there. We went back to the cargo bay where that pod was stored. It was adjacent to the port cargo lock, and due to the other containers, we could not peer inside it. A few communiques between the Sergeant and Major Lupin, and it was decided that the Wyvern's ships boat would follow us down to the surface. Coming from my Imperial background, this did seem extreme but was, according to Artic, fairly standard practice. The fringe systems such as Kohla are not as safe as things are deeper in the Imperium. According to Artic:

"There's all sorts out here. The League is hard-pressed at times to keep things right. Heck, around here you never see any Navy ships we're so far out. There are bunches of them Scout bases, but they just look at the stars and map all these places. Seems like an easy job if you ask me!"

Almost four hours later, we are parked on packed dirt and rock, the ship's boat a few meters away with four well armed Marshalls of the Patrol wandering in what I would have thought were random paths. Sergeant Hunter disabused me of that pretty quickly.

"You may think it is random, but notice that there are always two others always in sight, and they cover a lot of ground. Marshalls are a different breed it seems sometimes. That's Beta Team Leader Danner Tesauro. Plays a mean game of cards. But see how he watches over his guys, as well as the natives coming up now? Everything under control and ready for anything."

With the aid of the overhead cargo system, we managed to get the cargo carrier positioned and opened. The Patrol Investigators watched as Artic opened the doors, and the natives, normal humans that looked straight out of a holomovie wearing furs and rough cloth, brought in carts of fresh furs, meats and sacked plants of some sort. Artic and the chief bartered for more than an hour while boxes of pitchforks, spades, shovels, scythes and things I did not recognize were opened, inspected, and transferred to the carts as the furs and foods moved to now empty cargo container. 
The Space Patrol still patrolled around the perimeter as the inspectors basically watched the proceedings. I did manage to talk with Corporal Lucas, a sometimes nervous appearing woman who seemed pretty young.

"Yeah, this croaky planet actually has this plant that can be used for all sorts of things. One of those botanical wonderplants apparently. Its use is pretty strictly monitored as it can be used as a fast poison, so we do these random checks. The Antares group has never given us grief but you guys aren't the only traders coming through here, and some guys can be pretty croaky. So we drop by a lot, this is part of our patrol. Ready to get back to base though - sometimes those rations can get pretty boring. Wonder if we can trade for some fresh food?" 

And then she wandered off to the Sergeant, apparently to ask about possibly getting some fresh rations. 

Bargaining completed, the Road Runner's engineers had already set up the wilderness refueling system. The dense atmosphere was also starting to fatigue everyone other than the natives. We'd be staying on planet the next few days, but the Patrol was ready to leave. We said our good byes and the ship's boat launched back to the Wyvern and to the rest of her patrol.

This is Malik Castillion, reporting from Kohla in the League of Independent Planets. 
Dragon Class Patrol Corvette, Space Patrol

Solo Play - Session 0.3: 3rd term

Malik took the plunge and managed to survive with an 8 on the survival roll. So no real close escapes. Choosing the Journalist table, Malik picks up Sensors-1 to help him correlate the data his AVBot picks up to make a more cohesive and compelling story. And apparently the Evening Witness has a lot of faith in Malik: he goes on a tour of the sector and gains 3 contacts (rolled a 6 for a D3). During this tour is his promoted again, which for journalists carries no additional tittles or skills. He is a senior staff writer now, and perhaps gets noticed by the TAS or other news agencies.

Four years is a pretty long time, and I'll have to figure out contacts. If it is supposed to be a tour of the subsector, starting at Yllom, and assuming generally jump 1 with the occasional jump 2, his route would be: Yllom to Finnagin's World, then D'Arlee the quadrant capital. Iac, Dura, Jorella, Unbeme, Kimitri in which he becomes an embedded reporter for the Antares Ship Builders and Trade Speculators (see ASB&TS Profile, a source of at least one of the contacts), Alphoma, Nix, Subra, Xant, Yzom, Mons Gig, Rastraz, Zo, Johon, Yonder, Zalmer (which is an independent planet outside of any stellar government). Then to Crimlon (an asteroid belt), to Kohla, a system controlled by the League of Independent Planets. Back to Imperial space with Urint, Xabic, Tempor. Quint is another independent system, then on to Oheit, Croin, Exidtra, Jump, the fabled Lost World (and now to come up with a reason it is a lost world and fabled). Kiv to Lormia, Acept, Hooke, Jarbo, Zonin, Mount. The red zoned world of Des Plades is next, then Stant, Yontin, Murn, Delta (bypassing the red zoned system of Epsilon), Finnigin's Gamma. At this point Malik leaves the Antares shipping company's various traders and returns home to Yllom on an A2 free trader that was heading that way. Assuming he does a jump every 2 weeks, that is a 90 week journey. So, there will be systems he stays at for more than a week, sometimes less. The round trip ends up taking most of the term, with the last few months doing additional editing and broadcasting back on Yllom's Evening Witness.

His four year journey becomes a book (both print, holographic novel as well as a series of videos that are edited into a composite story). Malik at the end of this term is 30, and must decide to continue on his career, or has the 4 year tour of the sector given him wanderlust?

I think the next post may be one of the stories he covered: I have both the Pirate and Space Patrol supplements from Stellar Games, and it would be interesting to see them in a bit of action. It may help flesh things out if I can continue the previous Traveller game. Plus, it is fun!

At this point, we have:
699A96 Journalist, Senior Staff Writer (rank 3), 3 terms, age 30
Art (Writing 1), Carouse 0, Deception 0, Drive 0 (flyer 0/background), Language 0 (background), Streetwise 0 (background), Persuade 0, Steward 0, Electronics (Comm-1, Sensors-1), Investigate 1. 

3 Contacts, 1 political enemy.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Solo Play - Session 0.2: Malik's 2nd term

Malik goes into his 2nd term. Apparently having a political enemy made survival just that much more difficult: rolled a 6 and the roll is 7+. Fortunately with his education at 9, Malik gets +1 so squeaked by. There were some close calls this term! Rolling on events, it is a life event. Sadly, one of the close calls was getting mugged and losing one of his benefit rolls (it was either that or go to prison. With the barely surviving roll. the mugging works out well. He does advance from a freelance writer to a staff writer, but now on one of the global papers, the Evening Witness. This gains him the investigate 1 skill. He also gained +1 DEX from the personal development table.

Now 26, Malik has to consider staying in the more death-defying career he has chosen or switching careers. Survival is just better than 50/50, a fact I had not fully realized until I had to roll it again!

Poking around the internet, found what could be a good picture from Daegonn, Field Reporter. He has his commcorder which can do live broadcasts. I may have to see if I can work up some sort of stats for that, but I can see a small grav unit, rudimentary AI to keep the thing near Malik, and all sorts of audio/video recording and broadcasting capabilities.

Makhidkarun AVBot Model 1200F
A small, dome/disk robot that has a grav unit and hydrogen fuel cells. It has a linear computer processing system with standard storage. It includes telescopic, light intensifying, passive and active IR as well as enhanced audio. And of course the holorecorder and radio for live, in the spot broadcasts.

Unfortunately, using Book 8 (which I never actually used, but I do have the CD!) I can't make this work the way I want to. The smallest hydrogen cell is 20 liters and 20 kg. And of course the computer aspects are seriously dated. I don't have any other robot books, and ultimately I suppose it really does not matter. I'd try in Striker but that is definitely aimed more at vehicles.

I will steal part of the URP (Universal Robot Profile) for the model number:

Chassis Size 1 - 10 liters (about the size of an infant torso. Interesting size comparison)
Configuration 2 - half dome/disk shaped
Power Plant 0 - small fuel cell, enough for (making this up now) 12 hours without a recharge
Batteries 0 - no batteries (the only started at TL13 and I wanted this to be about a TL10 to be maintainable on Yllom without having to go to the port
Locomotion F - grav.

Trying to do this using T5 rules (and this is the 1st time looking at that section honestly):
20 liters.
Electronic brain.  1 unit
Constant vision with telescopic enhancements.
Constant audio for hearing.
Sealed body (so good for a variety of atmospheres, or even lack of one)
Zero-G baseplate, 4 units (liters)
Radio transceiver and ballistic position tracker.
Networked datalink
A weekly power cell take 12 units, I assume are liters, so more than half of this thing is power cell.
That puts us at 17 liters, the remaining 3 liters are the cameras, holdrecorders, and all that.

Regardless of how it gets designed. it is pretty darn expensive. So this is not the personal property of Malik, but the news group the Evening Witness.

Solo play v1.16 - Yllom's culture

Yllom is a world on the edge of Imperial space, a couple of parsecs out from the League of Independent Planets. It has no real Imperial presence other than the port. While the population if just over 9 billion people, there is little conflict. Some historians claim the early settlers were from a peaceful cult that worshipped flowers and the brotherhood of sophonts. Regardless of the origins, the water lily is considered a sacred plant, and most homes have water gardens. There are a significant variety of water lilies ranging in the entire spectrum of colors, and there is artwork on most buildings depicting the eponymous plant. In fact, the various councils each have their own water lily species and color as a representative of that council. It can be seen on official vehicles and quite often lapel pins. Most outsiders tend to think it is a bit excessive, yet colorful and benign at least.

There are 61 councils governing the planet and system (each with its own unique water lily design). While there is a fairly significant law level, the police and military forces are smaller than expected for a population of this size. And they appear to be unfailingly polite even when writing out a ticket. Do not let that lull visitors into a false sense of security, however. They do enforce their local laws with a velvet fist. In fact, the planetary police have a velvet water lily as their logo.

The primary language spoken is Galanglic, although there are a few local dialects that off-worlders may have a difficult time parsing. The population is mostly standard human, but there are several pods of uplifted Dolphins that live and work in the warm world ocean water.

Yllom itself has a bare 2 degree tilt, and seems to have basically a warm summer season all year round. The equatorial region does get warmer than most people enjoy, which may also explain why it also has the most underwater cities. There is one significant continent where more than 3 billion people live in four large cities, including one arcology that houses more than 5 million residents. There are several large islands and hundreds of smaller islands scattered over the planet. Most available surface area is farmed, but most cities also have significant vertical farms that produce almost half of the plant-based foods consumed on the planet. There is also a large variety of fish and water animals that are the primary basis of protein for the population. Strict laws govern the fishing to prevent over-fishing. Yllom has a healthy marine life despite the high population due to the Maine Council's strict enforcement of marine law.

There are rumors of pirate bases operating out of some of the smaller islands. Yllom does have a small squadron of system defense boats based both at the port and a small station at Yllom's third moon with an Argos class station. There is a large contingent of Imperial Inspectors at the port to police goods coming out of the League as well as goods going into the league. There are some cargoes that are proscribed for import or export, and the Imperium tries to keep a close eye on that. The occasional Space Patrol frigate from the League also shows up, tracking down pirates that live on the fringe between Imperial space and the League, or tracking illicit cargo. There have been known cases of sophont trafficking passing through the port, usually via cold berths.

Yllom does a fair amount of trade both with the Imperium and the League. The large high port transfers significant cargoes between worlds and is used as one of the primary importer/exporter to and from the League and the Imperium. While most of the trade is above board, there are restrictions from both the Imperium and the League of Independent planets.

The people are nice, and seem quite surprised about violence. Their entertainment seems to truly revolve around the sacred water lily for the most part. But there are sports, generally non-competitive, as well as adventuresome trips to the deep trenches or the 3 small mountains that have very limited access to keep the few wilderness areas pristine. There is a 3 year waiting period currently for climbing Mt. Shiguou.

Families tend to follow the standard nuclear option, with 2 parents. Families tend to be large as well, with 4 or more children not uncommon. There are a few variants, primarily the line marriage which is more a legal construct than the traditional family. The 9 billion population is also including the population of several large moon bases. With three moons, there is plenty of lunar real estate. The largest moon base, the Living City of S'Kalu on Yllom's second moon, boasts of more than 120 million inhabitants.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Solo Session 0.15 - Yllom

Came up with some images for Yllom. I'll be writing a fuller detailed write up this weekend, as well as seeing about Malik's family. Is he from a nuclear family, extended family, line marriage a al Heinlein? I know I saw some random rolls for that. Maybe is the only child or one of a dozen.

For those who keep up, I do get pretty carried away doing world write-ups.

Yllom is actually 88% water according to the stats when generating this map - I always do +/-5% on hydrospheres. Pretty sure that is sort of standard.

I'll have to put the hexes on this and do a bit of creative ISS stuff. One of these days I may have to come up with some sort of a template. Meanwhile, just winging it to see if anything sticks. As the Scouts are scattered, and it may take years for communication, I am going with there may be a LOT of versions as HQ keeps changing things but it takes a while for the new format to make it to the frontiers!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Solo Play - Session 0.1

I only got part way through the character generation. I got side tracked to deciding if I want to go Classic, Cepheus or Mongoose for character generation. So I had to re-read a bit. Decided T5 was still out of the question until I get T5.10. Plus the mechanics don't mesh with how I want to play.

Then side tracked by OTU vs MTU. As per a couple posts back, I did decide on MTU so I can flesh out the D'Arlee Quadrant a bit more. Then had to poke around to find an origin planet. Then I found that one of the Windows updates killed my Heaven & Earth software. Played a bit with the settings and now it is working using compatibility mode for XP version 3 or something.

Going with Mongoose but allowed for 1 extra roll to replace a bad roll. Cepheus uses 3 dice and pick the 2 highest. I think that makes for too much above average, although I know some players like that sort of thing. Heck, even in the fantasy games I like normal stats. But probably because I usually end up playing someone not too far gone from me. Guess I just like to see how I would do with strange circumstances.

So, my original rolls were 699396, then rolled a 10. So intelligence went from a 3 (basically a moron) to a A, so a pretty bright guy. Going through the Mongoose careers I decided a journalist would be fun, particularly has he had bonuses for survival and promotion.

So, Malik Castillion was born on Yllom (A689997-A), a planet in the D'Arlee Quandrant just a couple of parsecs away from the League of Independent Planets. Yllom is an Imperial world, the third planet of a G8 V star. It has three moons. Gravity is a bit less than 1G standard at .7G. It does have a dense oxy/nitrogen atmosphere which is surprising considering its size. So we'll bump up the planetary density a bit and increase the G to .9 standard. It is also 90% water, so almost a water world. There are 9 billion people on this planet. Thee are large floating cities, underwater cities, a few archologies. There are also orbital habitats in addition, so a good chunk of the population may laive in orbit as well. It has an impersonal bureaucracy, and a relatively high law level of 7, meaning even shot guns are banned. t TL A, it is early interstellar, but being on a trade route and a recent upgraded type A starport, higher tech may be available.

Growing up, Malik learned his way around various space ports. He picked up streetwise, language and flyer at skill level 0 as background skills. He enjoys talking with people and seeing what they do. He decided to pursue a journalist career, and applied himself diligently to a local new organization, the Global News, a glorified webnews site. During his first term, he picked up the basic skills, including Art 0, starting with writing, Carouse, Deception, Drive, Persuade and Steward. He also broke the news on a corrupt politicin, Graham Allesandro. Malik now has an enemy, but gained Writing-1. He was also promoted at the bureau to be an official freelancer, gaining the Comms-1 skill reflecting his ability to write prose and get it posted in places some officials may not like.

And that was session 0.1. I'll have to go into a deep dive for Yllom this weekend, and generate some fun world maps and details. And come up with some interesting news media names.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Fantasy Trip Session 3 / Wrap Up

The planned 3 session game pretty much worked out to 3 sessions. We were down 1 player but the remaining four seemed to have a good time. We picked up from session 2, picking mushrooms in a cavern across a stream. Still needing two bags to be filled, our group traipses back along a path they did not take before. The gentle incline and fresh air blowing down led them to believe they may be heading for another exit to caves. And while that was true, (random beast roll) a bear was also in that cave just before the exit. The halfling fighter of course charges the bear, who had waddled up menacingly towards the group. Coming out of a somewhat narrow passage, the was limited room for the group to maneuver. However, Quincy managed to sidle behind the distracted ursine, and Barnard the woodsman followed Sir Rabbit to a direct attack on the lumbering bear. Harkin stepped to the side and cocked his bow, ready to shoot. Quincy poked the bear with his rapier, Sir Rabbit slashed with the sword, and Barnard managed to miss with his axe. The bear's thick fur deflected some of the damage, but he was now an enraged bear, bleeding from several smaller wounds. The bear took a swipe at Barnard but missed. Alas, Harkin also missed the bear but managed to hit Barnard. In the head. Took his ear clean off and set his helm askew. Friendly fire is a thing in the Fantasy trip.

Next round, there was little movement and more attacks. They did kill the bear with no additional harm to themselves. Harkin drunk down his healing potion (normally TFT healing potion does 1 point of healing, I opted for a d4 as I have this little jar that fits a d4, so they can use that. It seemed to go over well).  They carved off a haunch of the bear, and turned back into the caverns to search more. Taking the other bridge, they found a natural fissure in the ground that should have been an easy climb down to the lower levels. Sadly, Sir Rabbit somehow tripped but did manage his save roll. He did mention to be 'ware the loose rocks to the rest of the group. Barnard must have been feeling spry as he leapt deftly down the hole. 

Wandering the lower level, they come into the next cavern where yet another randomly rolled beast awaits. This time a lion. Apparently the lion and bear use different ways of entering this cave system. All we needed was a tiger to make the refrain come alive.  The battle of the lion was more dangerous. However, this time there was more space to maneuver about and set up clear shots without companions in the line of fire. Quincy sidled again to the rear of the lion while it was engaged with Sir Rabbit and Barnard. Harkin moved off to the side for a clear line of fire, as did Merk, our Goblin mage. Quincy managed to poke the lion, Sir Rabbit managed a good hit. Alas, the lion also managed a good hit on poor Barnard, doing 8 points of damage and knocking him down. He was unable to attack on his turn. The next round, there was no movement. Harkin shoots and actually hits but does minimal damage. Another rapier hit to the backside from Quincy, and a slash from Sir Rabbit. Then a fireball goes off on top of the lion. The smell of burnt fur and cooked meat pervade the cavern, along with a cloud of smoke. Merk has the most toothy grin as Harkin complains about him showing off. They eat some cooked lion, and search the cavern. They find a single expensive looking gem (very expensive once they take it to someone who can evaluate it) and travel on. The next cavern they find enough mushrooms to finish the job, and they trek back out they way they came in.

Our dwarves are waiting outside, and it is late afternoon now. Storm clouds are moving in, and they make the hour journey back to Hamor. Glori and Thunderanvil (Heimlich!) take the bags to their room, then take part of the ambrosia mushrooms, along with bear, and make the most wonderful meal. There were a few lumberjacks with a large load of timbers and peery ready for the morrow's journey to Edge City. The peery and Bear Gumbo flowed and a good time was had by all.

And that's where we left the group. Those who wanted got their books stamped with Quest Complete stamps. Should we play again, we can start with that group. Because the lumberjacks are not defined, if new or different players want to join in we can adjust the group. And besides, Edge City is a large place!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Solo Game?

While there is interest in playing Traveller with my group, there is just so much time. Currently I am only playing once a week. If I referee/GM, that's all I can do (me and my over-preparation!). When I play I am not quite as pressured (and have a whole lot less to carry to game night!)

While I am still thinking about playing an on-line game (thanks for offer, Baron Greystone. Still thinking about it...I am slow with making changes), another option does exist: solo gaming. While I've played at Traveller a bit, creating characters, ships, vehicles, worlds and all those fun solo-oriented sub-games, I've not actually played a solo game. I've bookmarked as a wish list item the solo rules but I can probably get a bit into it with even less formalization.

What I am thinking this will let me do is take a character from pre-enlistment through post-enlistment for "session 0". Then randomly pick a world (OTU or MTU) and go from there. If I go with my TU, it will allow me to expand a bit on that background. I think there is some value to that: I am truly hoping to pick back up that Traveller game. There is some potential between the League of Independent Planets and their Space Patrol. The ever-present possibility of pirates along the interface between those polities. And as I've stuck it somewhere at the edge of the Great Rift, a possibility of using all those resources as well (if all else, at least the deep space exploration part).

I've read of some games going round-robin with the character generation, each player basically designing the planet they are from or stationed at. They are generating not only their characters. but the universe around them. I think there are maybe a couple of players in my group that would really enjoy that but the rest, not so much. I think it would be a lot of fun and drive better player involvement in the game.

Being late afternoon on a Sunday, maybe I will roll up a character and get him through some service, and post the results. Then pick a world where he is off to do whatever it is he is off to do. And I need to decide which version of Traveller? Should I try a T5 character, or Classic, or Mongoose, or Cepheus (huh, forgot that one in my last post on comparing versions!)

Which also means I'll be doing some deep dives again into world backgrounds, maybe ships (probably stat out some of the way too many posters and PDFs I have that, while not Traveller, are really cool ships. Me and that KSA. Although oddly I don't have an open Kickstarter at the moment, although I may back this:

I do like non-game specific things like this: they help get me out of my ruts of imagination.

And now for a picture :)

Friday, June 21, 2019

Some Traveller Comparisons

There are quite a number of blog posts out there comparing the various versions of Traveller. This post won't be anywhere near as definitive and is really just my opinion.

I started Traveller in the early 80s, getting the Deluxe Boxed set with the maps of the Imperium and the Spinward Marches, Adventure 0, and the really more important than you would think Book 0. Got these in high school. I was a loner: I knew people who were playing D&D, and even invited me over, but I was not particularly outgoing. So I could barely figure out what Traveller even was as it was my first introduction to RPGs. But I read and enjoyed the books, tried rolling up characters, but that was the extent of it,

Cue college, where I also brought the box along and played more solo types of creation. Someone mentioned that a guy down the hall had those little black books, so I found him, and through him, the college gaming club. There I played all sorts of RPGs for a couple of years, but Traveller was my favorite. We would play at the university until we got kicked out of the building, then go to someone's apartment and play Traveller to 4am or later. Some of the best and most bizarre games as a result of sleep deprivation mixed in with college ingenuity. But I learned how to use those systems, and bought everything I could for Traveller and a few other games. I stopped getting stuff about the time of MegaTraveller, because....

Cue girls, then RPGs took a very backseat. I kept a lot of my gaming stuff but a lot got lost along the way. All the Traveller stuff I kept, and oddly the Metagaming Fantasy Trip stuff, other than the actual role playing book (which I either never had or lost. The old Advanced Melee and Advanced Wizard are in my big box of the re-release of that game, and still useful).

Cue divorce, and I found the Asheville gaming club. No Traveller, but older and well-versed gamers. I spent a year or so gaming with that club, then girls again...

Years later, my Traveller stuff still near my desk, I found COTI. And fell back in love with Traveller. I started software again for it (hence this blog), and played with making worlds, characters, and just fun stuff. The T5 Kickstarter was my first Kickstarter, and I was really excited by it. Even though I was still not playing Traveller, I was playing with Traveller. I had kept in touch with one of the guys from the gaming group - we both also liked movies and would see the occasional movie. I got started back into the gaming club, but only in the summer due to a conflict with Scouts. Years later, my son makes Eagle Scout (and I am so proud of him!) and my time is freed up, so back to gaming once a week! Woot!

Somewhere in the middle of that, Mongoose came out with their version of Traveller. I got a lot of the source books, and even plunked down $20 to be part of the early tester for the 2nd edition years later. So I also played with that system a bit which is pretty close to Classic.

So, the comparisons.

First, I still mostly prefer the Classic Traveller: it is a simple system that originally you could do anything with. As the setting got more concrete, if you played in the OTU things, while easier, were not quite as open-ended. But there were, and still are, a huge number of resources and any number of ways to interpret the Imperium and still play in the OTU to take advantage of all those now digital resources (yay TravellerMap!) My issues with the classic version fall into the combat: it is basically a to hit & damage roll all in one and when I first started playing, it was hard to see how a knife could still damage someone in combat armor. When I got Striker, I adjusted to more that combat style, so that the to hit roll was separated from the damage roll. And while I actually prefer the mostly random character generation, a lot of people in my group pretty much hate it. I do modify it so that you have an extra roll to replace any roll in the stats, which are rolled straight and as is. And I also allow you to roll then select the table for skills so that you can shape the character but still have that random generation going on. But character roll ups were easy and pretty fast, although that could be from doing it for years...

Mongoose Traveller is mostly a revised Classic Traveller in my opinion. It uses more of the advanced generation techniques, but not quite as much. The skill levels are between classic and classic advanced I think (and that's just a feeling). And I really do like that connections part: at allows players to connect before they hit the space bar. And if you use the package set of skills, that is also a nice bonus. I've not played much of the 2nd edition, but I think I do like the boon/bane roll. It is a similar pattern to fantasy games when you are blessed or cursed mostly.  What I don't like is how Mongoose is really sensationalizing a lot of things: they bring in things that to me are just not Traveller. Warhammer maybe, or Judge Dread, but not Traveller. Perhaps it is a British thing.

Now T5 was not a playable game. There are a lot of very interesting bits and pieces in it, but it is not a cohesive game book. And I do not like the inversion of the rolls, where you have to roll under and there are dice pools. Like the Fantasy Trip, part of the vibe of the game is the dice mechanics. While a 2D6 roll does not have a lot of curve and granularity, it is simple and a +1 or +2 go a long way. I've used a few pieces in my games that I have run in the last couple of years, but my games also tend to be pretty rules-light.

The 2nd version of T5, T5.10, will be here in a few months. So we will see if that becomes a playable system. My fear is that it will just sit on my gaming shelf, looking pretty.

Friday, June 07, 2019

T5 - Successfully Funded. Again

The 5.1 version for reprinting the T5 book, now 3 slip cased books, completed with "1,273 backers pledged $166,304 to help bring this project to life." So apparently there is some life left in it In reading a lot of the comments over on COTI, it does seem that there are some major improvements to several parts of things. I did break down and bump up to the Captain Level, $150 for something I will get for free. But I do like physical books, and there are cards that I am hoping, if somewhat not too much, to be actually useful during play.

What I wish is that Marc ran the KS and post-KS process more like Steve Jackson games. Somehow they manage to produce the PDFs and get more eyeballs on them and improve the product. While I realize there would be a lot of noise, I believe it would be very beneficial. And the lack, or at least lack of acknowledging, a true editor is also bothersome. For the amount of money raised, both times, an external editor would have been really nice. As I've mentioned all too often: you can't truly proofread your own stuff as you see what you think is there and not what is really there. In the software world I live in, this is code review.

I am looking forward to this, though. I am hoping I'll be able to run another Traveller game at some point. There are at least a couple of people wanting to play. And I'd love to be able to play - there's at least one player with the Classic books and he could run a game as well.

T5 Kickstarter